26 February 2020

Interline Air Mail

In the early days of air services in New Zealand first day covers or special covers were issued to mark the occasion.

One of these was issued when East Coast Airways' Gisborne-Napier service was extended further south to Palmerston North. This meant it was possible to send an airmail letter from Gisborne to Okuru at an 'All up' rate flying on all four airlines.

A special 4-colour cover was issued and all were addressed to Captain F.W. Crawford. All bore the badge of each airline and the covers were signed by each of the pilots;

East Coast Airways 
T W White
Gisborne to Palmerston North

Group Captain Tiny White
Source : https://horowhenua.kete.net.nz/item/32fd63f1-e884-4701-9d0e-2fe2d81e1e9d
Horowhenua Historical Society Inc

Mr T. W. White, East Coast Airways' chief pilot, was one of the many New Zealanders who served in the Royal Air Force during the war He was a prisoner of the Turks for a long while. He is sometimes confused with another T. W. White, who wrote a book describing how he escaped from a Turkish prison camp. The latter, however, was an Australian, and is now Minister for Customs in Australia. The New Zealand Mr White was instructor to the Hawke's Bay Aero Club when it was formed, and for some time afterwards. Then he was appointed chief pilot to New Zealand Airways, Ltd., and with his base at Dunedin he did a good deal of pioneer flying in Central Otago. The company's headquarters were then shifted to Timaru where he lived for some time. He went to Australia to fly a machine which Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith had built—the Codock—over the Tasman, but when it was decided not to make the flight he flew the machine for some months on a service between Sydney and Newcastle. From this job he came back to New Zealand to join the staff of East Coast Airways. During the Second World War he returned to the RNZAF as a Group Captain and later became an Air Commodore. He died in 1979.

Source :  The Press 5 September 1935. 

Union Airways 
G Harvey and G R White, 
Palmerston North to Wellington

George Harvey
George Harvey flew bombers for the RNZAF during World War II . After the war he joined NAC becoming a captain on the Viscounts NAC's chief pilot.

Gordon White, third from the right
Gordon "Doggie" White also service with the RNZAF during World War II . After the war he joined NAC.

Cook Strait Airways 
S L Gilkinson
Wellington to Hokitika

Stuart Gilkison on the left
 Whites Aviation Limited. 1937. De Havilland DH-86 Express Airliner, 15-0727. Walsh Memorial Library, The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).

During the Second World War Stuart Gilkison became a Wing Commander and was officer in charge of the RNZAF in Fiji. He was later a Hastings Borough Councillor. He died in 1970.

Air Travel (NZ)   
J C Mercer and J D Hewett
Hokitika to Okuru

Mail stowed in Air Travel N Z Ltd aeroplane with Captain J D Hewitt and Captain Mercer. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-09375-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22609389

Before taking up flying James Cuthbert (Bert) Mercer ran garages in Amberley and Waikari in North Canterbury. After the Canterbury (NZ) Aviation Company was formed in 1916 to train pilots for the war in Europe, he moved his family to Sockburn, on the outskirts of Christchurch, and joined as a mechanic. He received flying training and, although he was too old to be sent overseas, was kept at Sockburn as an instructor.

Following the war the company was reduced to displays and joyriding to stay in business and Mercer joined Rodolph Wigley's Timaru-based New Zealand Aero Transport Company. Regular operations were planned and Mercer undertook a number of development flights. On 25 October 1921 he set a one-day distance record, from Invercargill to Auckland, in a de Havilland DH9. When the company joined the general collapse of New Zealand's fledgeling civil aviation industry in 1923–24, Mercer went back into the motor trade in Christchurch. He had his own garage in Hereford Street and was later head of engineering at another garage.

When the Canterbury Aero Club started in 1928 he was its first pilot instructor. Introduced to the West Coast by two of his pupils, he recognised the region's potential for an airline. In November 1934 Mercer resigned from the Canterbury Aero Club to form his own airline, based in Hokitika, Air Travel (New Zealand) which was the first airline in New Zealand to start scheduled services when Mercer flew its Fox Moth south from Hokitika on 18 December 1934.

Services extended from Nelson in the North to Jacksons Bay in the south. He died from his injuries  after a company DH Dragon was caught in turbulence and crashed on the side of Mt Hope near Kawatiri on the 30th of June 1944. 

In the First World War James (Jim) Duff Hewett was a Captain in the Royal Flying Corps (and later RAF) and was decorated for gallantry. He reamined with the RAF after the war and later came home to New Zealand and joined the New Zealand Permanet Air Force reaching the rank of Squadron Leader. For a time he was with the Goodwin Chichester Aviation Company of Wellington and in September 1929 he set up Falcon Airways Ltd, using a DH60G Moth ZK-AAR. He flew mostly from a hilly ridge at Orakei Heights. He joined Air Travel (NZ) in 1936. During the War he returned to the RNZAF in 1940 and was made a Wing Commander.

Source : https://timespanner.blogspot.com and Hoki to Haast by Richard Waugh

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